Sunday, 16 November 2008

Learning to taste

I really do know that I'm going to have to be better at tasting beer. I need to say more than I enjoy an ale I'm tasting or I don't. I'm hoping, in time, to work my way through most of the Cumbrian Ales out there. It'll take some time and with the number of brewerys springing up I doubt I'll ever catch up.

But as I know quite a few of the brewers, and they are mostly nice people, so I need to be more descriptive about the beers and just because I don't like a beer does not mean that it's a bad beer.

Tonight it's the turn of Tirrils Red Barn Ale. Now part of this brewery's spiel talks about traditional British ales made with UK varieties of whole hops. I've come to a conclusion that I prefer ales made with hops that include some continental or American hops. Cascade is my favourite but I also like Willamette. Most importantly I like beers with lots of hops. Dark, light or whatever, hoppy is best, for me.

Red Barn ale is at a disadvantage with me from square one because it is a low hopped beer. But we need to be an intelligent taster. We need to try and ignore that fact that it would not be my forst choice.

So firstly the nose, it seems to have an aroma dominated by malts. It reminds me of malted milk biscuits, to the extent that I get an aroma reminiscent of sour milk. But that's bad, is it?

I'm drinking my second pint as I type this post. It grows as you drink. The flavour is perhaps not as full as I'd like. Not enough bittering and again a malty feel with a sweet and sour sensation dominating the rest. I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that any beer that has not got sufficent bitter flavour will score less highly with me because the sour sensation that takes over reminds me of acetic, which of course suggets an off flavour. But if it were acitic I would KNOW by the end of the second pint (which is were I am now) and it's not.

So, in conclusion, it's a low hopped, slighly malty beer. Exactly how it's designed and tastes better after 2 pints than at first tasting. Some would say this is better than a wow factor first off, but leaving you hopped out and declining a second.

I think then, I need a third pint - just to make sure you understand.

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